SOUTH OF BLUFF DALE – He said don’t expect a whole lot, and I said, “That’s what I want.”
Every Thursday evening at historic Cedar Point Baptist Church, Granbury’s Jimmy Walker and a merry band of fellow musicians pick and sing songs that won’t land them on the Country Music Association Awards stage, but they’re not after fame and fortune.
The Cedar Point Music Club is proud of sticking to their roots; traditional country, bluegrass and gospel. It’s a refreshing put-on-your-brakes style of music in a time when it seems there’s only two lanes – fast and faster.
A trio of Granbury slowlaners – David Cleveland, Maurice Walton and myself – met on a recent Thursday and took the scenic 30-minute drive down through Paluxy and west to Cedar Point to hear the talented but humble musicians.
They didn’t disappoint.
“It was just a neat experience,” Walton said later. “When I watched those men and ladies playing and singing I could visualize men and women in this area in the past getting together to play and sing and folks like us showing up to hear them.”
Walton said it gave him the opportunity to hear music that he hasn’t heard in awhile.
Their music is a throwback to the simpler times, to the Saturday nights when the entertainment of the week was when families gathered around the radio to listen to the Grand Ole Opry.
Or when rural churches, such as those in Hood County, hosted much-anticipated “Saturday Night Singings.”
The Cedar Point format is simple for the players. There are no auditions. Just show up with your instrument, find a chair and join the party.
Emcee and acoustic guitar player Dale Moore was among the 13 musicians on this Thursday evening. He controls the volume on the microphones.
Moore gives every musician the chance to play a favorite. He or she starts out then the others join to the delight of the audience.
One of the biggest fans is Glendon Stokes of Granbury. He was smiling every time I looked over.
Stokes rarely misses a Thursday night. A widower, he said the weekly event is his main social life.
The group starts playing at 6:30 and play for an hour until it’s time to eat when they and the audience retreat next door to the old schoolhouse for a delicious covered dish supper. The serving table included homemade salads, beans and cornbread, and desserts of all kind including a cherry cobbler with whipped cream.
Cleburne mandolin player Melody Hendrix heard about the Cedar Point “jam” sessions from one of her patients.
With her mandolin in tow, Hendrix, a medical assistant, decided to check it out.
“I just showed up there one night,” Hendrix said. The group welcomed Hendrix and offered a place for her in the circle. She immediately felt at ease.
Moore, the emcee, made Hendrix a stand for her mandolin.
“All of the people are such sweet people,” Hendrix said. “They are willing to bring you in. It’s one of my favorite ones to go to.”
Hendrix also plays at a Midlothian coffee shop, Alvarado library, Glen Rose’s Oakdale Park and the Cleburne senior citizens center.
Her boyfriend, Roger Starnes, a Texas state banjo champion, joined her at Cedar Point on this particular Thursday.
Hendrix and Starnes are younger ones in the bunch. But age doesn’t matter.
“It’s the music,” Hendrix explains. “The love of the music. It’s the music that connect you.
“I’m not a fan of a lot of the new stuff. I love the old country and gospel. I think there’s more feeling in a lot of that.”
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
Like Hendrix, Glenda May didn’t learn to play until she was an adult.
“I was probably in my 60s before I learned how to play an instrument,” the Gran-bury resident said.
Now she can’t get enough of playing her baritone ukulele and harmonica.
“I have a lot of fun,” she said. “Music makes you feel good.”
May first learned to play the mountain dulcimer. She bought it but hung on her wall “eight or nine years” before she learned to play when some musicians heard she had one and offered to teach her how to play.
Walker, 82, has been playing at Cedar Point for 20 years. He hopes the tradition continues for a long time.
“We’re not the Grand Ole Opry, but I betcha we have more fun,” he said with a smile.